Monday, August 18, 2008

Dangerous Particulate Pollution In Some Wisconsin Counties To Be Declared Extensive, Feds Will Say

I posted this Friday, and now am updating it:

Remember all those dirty air alerts our region has been experiencing - - sample from this winter, here - - especially when it comes to the fine particulates that are a serious health hazard?

I'm told that federal authorities have been studying the issue in Wisconsin and will say the particulate pollution problem is more extensive than believed earlier, and may extend to more counties that do not meet acceptable air quality standards.

It'll be noteworthy on its own, but also in relation to the plan to widen I-94 south from Milwaukee to the Illinois state line, a plan that will put more particulates in the air.

And also interesting in light of the state's petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency, and pleas by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, to ease air quality rules in the southeastern Wisconsin and Milwaukee region.

The DNR includes worrisome descriptions of particulate matter and its hazards when it issues air quality warnings, such as this one issued for Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties in a March, 2008 alert:

"These fine particles come primarily from combustion sources, such as power plants, factories and other industrial sources, vehicle exhaust, and wood fires.

"The Air Quality Index is currently in the orange level, which is considered unhealthy for people in sensitive groups. People in those sensitive groups include those with heart or lung disease, asthma, older adults and children. When an orange advisory for particle pollution is issued, people in those groups are advised to reschedule or cut back on strenuous activities.

"'People with lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, and heart disease should pay attention to cardiac symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath or respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing and discomfort when taking a breath, and consult with their physician if they have concerns or are experiencing symptoms.

"Fine particle pollution deposits itself deep into the lungs and cannot easily be exhaled. People who are at risk are particularly vulnerable after several days of high particle pollution exposure."

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